Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Afternoon Tea

Christopher Robin was home by this time, because it was the afternoon, and he was so glad to see them that they stayed there until very nearly tea-time, and then they had a Very Nearly tea, which is one you forget about afterwards, and hurried on to Pooh Corner, so as to see Eeyore before it was too late to have a Proper Tea with Owl.

- A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

In nothing more is the English genius for domesticity more notably declared than in the institution of this festival - almost one may call it - of afternoon tea...The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.

- George Gissing

The British have developed a rich tradition around the custom of afternoon tea. They know how to do it. They serve their black tea with milk and sugar, and a variety of special tea treats. Traditional fare includes little sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries, and cakes. This is often served on a tiered stand. An Elegant China teapot and cups finish setting the table. Although this custom has become less common in recent years, there was a day not too long ago when everything stopped for tea between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.

We can take a page from British history and follow their example by stopping to have a tea party every afternoon. After all, a society that produced Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Thomas More, Jane Austen, John Webster, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, T.S Eliot, Winston Churchill, G.K.Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis -- just to name a few -- must know something about nourishing the mind and imagination.

Have you tried it?

Am I serious? You bet. If trying to start your school year is wearing you out, stop everything. Just for 30-60 minutes. Put on some nice music, light a candle, or put some flowers in a vase. Put a lovely cup and a treat on a tray. Boil the water, brew the tea. Sit in a part of the house that is pretty. Or linger on the porch and savor the still warm afternoon. Watch the leaves turn. Laugh at the antics of the squirrels who are storing their winter stash. Notice the migrating birds over your head. Let the children play. Isn't the light golden? Let time stand still.

I recommend it, like a daily vitamin for the soul.

To that end, I offer you one of my favorite easy recipes for a tea treat that takes almost no effort and is low in calories. The point is for you to recharge, not work in the kitchen, and to have fun, without the guilt.

Afternoon Tea Angel Treat


Angel Food Cake
Fat-Free Tapioca, vanilla, or chocolate pudding
Fresh berries or Cherry Pie Filling
Fat-Free Cool Whip


Put the water on to boil.

Cut a piece of Angel Food Cake. Slice the piece in half horizontally to make a traditional two-layer piece of cake. Spread the pudding on one half of your piece and place the second half on top of the first. Spread pudding on top of the second piece. Add fruit, according to your taste. Finish with a dollop of whipped topping.

Steep your tea. Put everything on the tray and carry to a place where you can relax.

You have just done something completely frivolous.


(Note: your children may want some dessert, too. Think about this ahead of time. I suggest that you offer them a piece of cake for dessert after supper . . . Right now, it's "Mom's moment" for "play and rest." If you seriously doubt they will let you take time out in peace, consider asking your husband to watch the children for you when he is home, just long enough for you to relax.)


What's your favorite dessert?


  1. Yes, yes, yes! A friend introduced me to the concept of afternoon tea several years ago. While I don't do it everyday, I always feel so refreshed when I do.

    We used to get our kids together for tea as well. On several occasions she prepared "high tea", which is heavier fare with meats and such.

    I'm a tea party junkie!

  2. I have two lovely teapots that I need to use more often; especially now that it's getting a bit cooler.
    Thank you Cassandra for your lovely blog and wonderful writings.
    Julie D.

  3. Rachel and I usually have a tea break in the afternoon or morning, depending on the day. It is a lovely treat.

  4. How nice to know that there are others who like to have tea! I'm not so "odd" after all.


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